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Sequentia keeps Von Bingen's music alive


Hildegard von Bingen, "The Complete Sequentia Edition" (Sony/Sequentia 9-discs).

The sudden eruption of the writings and especially the music of Hildegard von Bingen in the '80's was one of the more marvelous things to come out of a decade didn't get much love.

In 1982, the vocal ensemble Sequentia would begin recording the wonderful known music from the 12th century that had been written by this amazing Benedictine Abbess in Bingen who, in a medieval era was so distinctive and so advanced her work was like a Renaissance within medieval culture. She was the Abbess of the Rupertsberg convent in Bingen on the Rhine. Her music for the sisters of the convent is both incredibly beautiful and also incredibly forward-looking. Just as Renaissance composers Gesualdo and Pomponio Nenna anticipated 20th century dissonance, the athletic, wide melodic leaps so famous in such 20th century composers as Prokofiev can be heard emerging in transmogrified medieval form in Hildegard's music.

The co-founder of the Sequentia musicians was Barbara Thornton. She was largely responsible for the Hildegard recordings being almost complete. The project had to stop though when Thornton died tragically at the age of 48 from an inoperable brain tumor she'd long struggled with. Her group had to wait to complete what Thornton began until Hildegard was nominated for Sainthood in 2012.

There are 12 hours of magnificent medieval chant on these 12 discs--a tribute, of course, to an amazing figure from the 12th century but also to singer/scholar Barbara Thornton and her dedicated ensemble.

4 stars (out of four)


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